Renovations Moving Forward for New Southeast Law Enforcement Academy

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo.,

Dec. 3, 2005 – Work is now under way to renovate unfinished space at the south end of the SEMO Regional Crime Lab to make way for a new home  to the Southeast Law Enforcement Academy.

Installation of an air handling unit currently is under way in association with duct work and electrical connections being installed at the facility at 122 S. Ellis, said Carolyn Figliolo, project manager with Southeast’s Facilities Management. This portion of the project is expected to be completed by Dec. 31. K&K Construction and Mechanical of Advance, Mo., is serving as the mechanical contractor, Figliolo said.

The architectural portion of the project will be re-bid in early spring, she said, with expected completion of all work by the end of next summer, she said.

Thanks to a $492, 322 federal earmark from the National Institute of Justice, the SEMO Regional Crime Lab is now able to renovate space adjacent to the laboratory and expand its capabilities to better serve law enforcement agencies in the southeast Missouri region.

Pam Johnson, director of the SEMO Regional Crime Lab, said the new funds will be used to renovate unfinished space for the Southeast Law Enforcement Academy and to install a bullet trap in the lab’s firing range to enhance firearm analysis capability.

The Academy, which is in its 18th year, provides basic and continuing education for area law enforcement agencies. Each year, up to 100 law enforcement personnel are trained through the Academy and hundreds participate in continuing education courses. Over the years, more than 1,000 law enforcement personnel have been trained by the Academy.

The Academy is currently housed in Academic Hall on the Southeast campus, and training is held in various buildings across the campus.

“They will now have a permanent home all in one place,” Johnson said.

Dr. Mike Brown, director of the Law Enforcement Academy, said the Academy’s Firearms Training Simulator has been in Pacific Hall for many years. He said the Academy is only able to use the simulator on nights and weekends because it is noisy, and nearby classrooms can hear the simulation of shots being fired, sirens and people yelling.  

“I’m really looking forward to having a permanent home,” he said. “The chance to have some space to move into will mean a lot to area agencies when they come to town. This sends a message to southeast Missouri that the University is committed to meeting the needs of various agencies.”

Smith DeLine, a member of the SEMO Regional Crime Lab Advisory Board, said, “That’s something we had worked towards for several years. They (the Law Enforcement Academy) were shackled by the fact that they really didn’t have a place to call their own. This is going to be a tremendous asset to law enforcement and the community as a whole.”

The Academy, which will encompass 6,318 square feet of space, will feature a weapons training simulator, a classroom, a defensive tactics area and offices. Johnson said the new Academy space will feature an automotive bay on the far south side of the building, where trainees can learn stop and search techniques. The Crime Lab also will be able to use the automotive bay for processing vehicles when they become evidence in a crime scene.

Eventually, Johnson said, the building will house the SEMO Regional Crime Lab, the Law Enforcement Academy, an environmental testing facility and a forensic pathology lab all under one roof.

“It’s a great opportunity to create a one-stop law enforcement shopping environment,” Brown said.

The federal earmark comes from the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), an arm of the Department of Justice that deals with science and technology (forensic science). U.S. Sen. Bond previously announced additional federal earmarks totaling $1.98 million from NIJ to remodel and relocate to its current facility on Ellis Street.

The new state-of-the-art SEMO Regional Crime Lab was dedicated in September 2003. The new lab is housed in the Tlapek Building, a former warehouse owned by the University. The lab previously was located in a small house along Henderson Street on the Southeast Missouri campus.

The new lab is situated in about 8,000 square feet of space, up from about 2,000 square feet in its previous location. The lab provides testing for drugs, firearms examinations, blood/body fluids, serology, trace evidence, arson, fingerprints, alcohol in blood, urine toxicology and DNA. The SEMO Regional Crime Lab is vital to the law enforcement community in a 20-county service region. It currently serves about 90 different law enforcement agencies.

Johnson said that thanks to the NIJ earmarks, in addition to about a dozen grants, the facility on Ellis Street has been renovated and equipment upgraded so more cases can be processed in a more efficient manner.